It’s a new year, and it’s hard to know how to feel about 2012 – one on hand: the possible collapse of the Eurozone, the violence in Egypt and Syria, the endless American military occupations, the talk of an attack on Iran, the stalled US economy, and you know, the whole 99% thing: big bummer. And on the other: lots of steam still with Occupy, the Indignados, Arab Spring: lots of hope.
But one thing is certain – for many people 2012 will be End Times. This means there will be lots of interesting cultural production out there.
With that in mind (and with “structured procrastination” as guidance), I thought I’d dedicate a few posts to the genre of conspiracy theory, since it’s so tied up with End Times thought. If sociology teaches anything, is that to learn from controversies one ought to be agnostic and symmetrical. You won’t learn much if you think that these are made by weirdos. But I think there’s a lot to be learned about our present time and our anxieties by watching these with an open mind. Think, for a moment, about how conspiracy videos have probably informed the US public sphere more than all of the NPR talk shows combined.
So, in that spirit, I thought I’d share with you my favorite conspiracy videos.
5. Time Traveler talking on cel-phone in 1928:
This is not strictly a conspiracy video, in the sense that it exposes one, but if you think about it, by showing us proof of time travelers, it points to a potentially huge conspiracy and invites us, the viewers, to theorize it. This came out last year and there are lots of funny response videos (one in which the DeLorean from Back to the Future also shows up in a Charlie Chaplin movie, ipods and ipads in other old movies, etc.), as well as some seriously popular-scientific debate (ie. “ok, so maybe she is talking on a cel phone, but there were no cel towers back then!”).
What I love about this video is that it’s so damn earnest. It’s just this guy, you know, who was watching the extras in a Charlie Chaplin movie, and then he saw this, and none of his friends could explain it either…
4. Faked Moon-landing.
The Earth may or may not be flat in this video (all Flat-Earthers are Apollo-11 deniers, but not all No-Moon-Landing people are Flat Earthers), but this video examines the film evidence for the “so called moon landings.” It shows you strings lifting astronauts, plays with the speed of the video, and examines up close some of the moon footage. I don’t know if it’s the smooth English accent, but skeptics beware, it might make you question the whole NASA thing….
3. The Denver Airport is a giant Swastika
I’ve always thought that the Denver airport is nice, but it’s also slightly strange, and this before I knew it looked like a Swastika from the sky. This is terribly amateurish, and slightly dated – it’s from before imovie and powerpoint made it so easy to have professional looking documentaries (see above). But it’s got some pretty serious post-colonial cultural critique going by the time you get the paintings.
2. College is the biggest conspiracy of all.
I’ll violate my principle of agnosticism for a second, and say I, or any leftist college professor will have to admit that this video is 80% true. It’s a bit long winded, but it’s got good production values. Probably good to have as background for a dinner party, for example. The thing that’s chilling about it is not that it says you should buy silver, but it’s its discussion of the economics of higher ed.
1.The Greatest Conspiracy of All – Money! (With special appearances by the Fed, the IRS, JFK, the Rothschilds, Ben Franklin, Woodrow Wilson, and the Delorian from Back to the Future).
With all these conspiracies out there, it’s hard to know which is the real meta-conspiracy, the really big one. What’s more fundamental than… money? I enjoyed this video – it’s southpark meets the John Birch society, with the real estate crisis thrown in for good measure. It breaks from one of the conventions of the genre – the smoking gun moment (actually it’s usually memo) with piano music and grainy black and white footage, and instead makes its case in broad sweeps, following the arcs of history. It’s more Karl Marx than Noam Chomsky. Or maybe Groucho Marx. It’s super intertextual, actually aimed the seasoned conspiracy video watcher, though told as if “telling it like it is” to neophytes. And it’s also oddly PC – just when you think the video is going to go on an anti-semitic tangent, it pulls back.
Maybe it’s a joke! Or maybe that’s what they want you to think!
There’s loads more at conspiracyrealitytv. But be warned, once you start to google stuff like perpetual motion machine and free energy, it’s hard to stop.